On June 2nd, 2022, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced the recovery of $283,000 in unpaid wages and liquidated damages on behalf of nearly two dozen workers in northeast Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. A federal court determined that a Salem, NH based landscaping company called Belko Landscaping LLC knowingly failed to pay workers the overtime wages that they were due under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Here, our Western Massachusetts wage and hour lawyer provides an overview of the enforcement action taken by the DOL.
Allegations: Employer Denied Overtime Pay to at Least 19 Workers
A federal court determined that Belko Landscaping LLC committed a wage and hour violation by denying proper overtime pay to at least 19 workers in northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. The court found that the company simply paid these workers straight-time wages for their full hours, even when they worked beyond 40 hours in a given week.
The DOL reports that $141,510 was recovered as back wages for the affected workers. Additionally, the workers have also been granted an additional $141,510 in liquidated damages. Finally, the owner of the company was assessed a civil financial penalty of more than $14,000 for intentionally violating the FLSA.
What to Know About Liquidated Damages Under the FLSA (Double Damages)
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that requires employers to pay time-and-a-half to non-exempt employees that work more than 40 hours in a workweek. An employer cannot simply decide that an employee is “exempt” from the FLSA’s overtime provisions. There are strict DOL regulations in place to determine whether or not a worker qualifies as exempt or non-exempt.
An employer that violates FLSA’s overtime rule can be held legally liable. As a baseline, affected workers are entitled to back pay plus interest for the overtime wages that they should have been paid. In addition, the FLSA also authorizes employees to seek liquidated damages in the form of “double back pay” if their employer knowingly or recklessly failed to pay overtime.
Liquidated damages are not awarded in every unpaid overtime case. The FLSA holds that liquidated damages will not be imposed on an employer that commits a good faith violation. In that circumstance, an employer may only be liable for full back pay plus interest. However, if an employer intentionally violates the FLSA’s overtime law, the affected workers have the right to seek compensation for double the amount of pay that they were denied.
Set Up a Confidential Consultation With a Massachusetts Wage and Hour Lawyer
At Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, LLC, our Massachusetts wage and hour attorneys fight tirelessly to protect the rights of workers. If you or your family member was denied overtime pay, we are ready to help. Contact us now to set up your confidential appointment. From our offices in Springfield and Northampton, we provide wage and hour representation throughout Western Massachusetts.